Buckinghamshire Rape Crisis began in 1991 offering support services to women survivors of sexual violence. Wycombe Rape Crisis was developed further in 1995 to become a non-profit making organisation, offering a wide range of support to women that have survived sexual abuse.
Initially the service was run by volunteers only, then in 1992 the service obtained funding for two years to finance a part time development worker. The funding ended in 1994, but the volunteers maintained the running of the charity and the service continued. Unfortunately, the demand for the service was high and too much to be handled by just volunteers and with no funding, so Wycombe Rape Crisis then reverted to providing only a 24-hour answerphone service as a point of contact for female survivors and anyone that the service wasn't able to help were referred to other organisations who could help them further.
In 1998, the value of the service became questionable and an emergency meeting was called where it was suggested that Wycombe Rape Crisis and its services were closed down. One new member of the group, asked to be given a year to try and revive the organisation by forming a new working group with the overall aim to obtain some long term funding. This was agreed and the organisation was given until 1999.
Six months after the new working group was formed, they made a decision to spend the small amount of money in the bank to employ somebody on a 6-month contract to draw up a development plan, create a business plan and apply for funding. This became a critical situation, as with no funding, Wycombe Rape Crisis would not exist into the 21st century.
The contract worker came into post in January 1999, and during her 6 months she drew up a plan and put in an application to The National Lottery Charities Board for three-year funding. By October of the same year, we had been awarded 100% of our application, which would enable us to provide face-to-face and telephone counselling, support for female survivors and their carers, self-help groups, advice and information for other professionals and raising general awareness for young people and the general public.
In 2000, new Wycombe Rape Crisis began with only 3 paid workers. The following year, new counselling and helpline services were provided by staff and 7 volunteers.
By 2002, the service expanded to offer advocacy and accompanying, befriending and groupwork but again faced closure by 2003 as there was no ongoing funding. Fortunately, another 3 years of funding was provided by the National Lottery Community fund.
By 2004, Wycombe Rape Crisis had again grown and was going strong with 6 paid workers, 18-23 volunteers and secured funding until 2006.
At the end of 2006, when the funding had ended, the service changed its name to reflect the area it covered (Wycombe, Chilterns and South Bucks) and a Youth Outreach worker also became appointed.
The following year an Asian Outreach worker was also appointed and again a funding crisis almost results in closure or the centre. Workers had to fight for short term funding and did get it but services had to be reduced as a result. The director mounted a national media campaign and joined up with Rape Crisis England & Wales' campaign to save all RC centers from shutting down.
In 2008, the government recognised the expertise of the Rape Crisis movement and gave emergency funding to the centres that were facing closure and tried to work out what to do to make the services that they offered sustainable. The next year, there was still no sustainable funding so the government delivered the "special fund" therefore, sustaining the the crisis in Rape Crisis especially as the amount was capped and the funding went to many other non specialist organisations.
In 2009, we employed our first ISVA (Independent Sexual Violence Adviser) to help and support women who want to go to the police or to court.
In 2010, we moved to bigger premises and had more space to offer each of the services.
In 2011, the government gave us the 'Rape support fund' and the 'Victims fund'. The amount was still capped but was limited to organisations working directly with survivors of sexual crimes. However, we had to end our Asian and Youth outreach work temporarily but were able to reinstate this by 2012. The same year we were also able to build 3 counselling rooms and again expand the staff and volunteer team. There were now about 40 counselling session and a team of 25-30 support and counselling volunteers.
For the next few years, we continued to expand and we changed the Asian Outreach to BAMER (Black, Asian, Minority, Ethnic, Refugee) outreach and moved to a new area in the building which we were able to adapt to meet our needs.
By 2016, we had 8 members of staff, and a fluctuating number of volunteers. This meant that we were able to book up to 55 counselling sessions a week but we suffered a loss of our befriending service and our non CJS advocacy service.
Our aim was to expand our group and holistic work, but we needed to ensure the continuation of what we already had. We had an ever increasing number of survivors requesting our support and services and it was difficult to meet the demand.
In 2015, we did some prevention work with Thames Valley Police which resulted in the consent is everything campaign and the prevention work is still ongoing now.
In October 2016, a new director was appointed and a changing political climate which offered opportunities as well as threats and we all looked forward to the future of Rape Crisis working in sisterhood to bring about the changes and growth that we all wanted.
Due to the increasing demand for the service we relocated again to a bigger premises in 2017. We still remain here now and have many aspirations about how we can use the building in the future to continue support women in the best way possible. We have an ever growing staff and volunteer team and are very proud of the support that we provide to women!